Condition that ‘goods once sold will not be taken back or exchanged’ amounts to unfair trade practice: consumer panel


“Goods once sold will not be taken back or exchanged” is an illegal condition constituting an unfair trade practice under the Consumer Protection Act, the Ernakulam District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has said.

The commission comprising President D.B. Binu and members V. Ramachandran and Sreevidhia T.N. made the statement while dismissing a petition by a consumer seeking compensation and replacement for the alleged failure of a watch dealer to repair a damaged a smartwatch.

While the petition was dismissed for lack of merit, the commission felt that the clause ‘goods once sold will not be taken back or exchanged’ on the purchase invoice raised significant legal considerations in the context of consumer protection and fair trade practices. The dealer was asked to remove the illegal condition immediately from the cash memos, invoices, and bills.

“This directive serves to reinforce the principles of fairness and transparency in commercial transactions and underscores the rights of consumers to seek redressal for defective goods, thus aligning with the objectives of the Consumer Protection Act to protect consumer interests and prevent unfair trade practices,” the commission observed.

Besides, the Registry of the commission was directed to forward a copy of the order to the Controller of the Legal Metrology department and the Commissioner of Kerala State Goods and Services Tax department for appropriate action. Periodic inspections in shops should also be undertaken to ensure compliance.

The commission cited a verdict by the Kerala State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in June 2013 that ruled that “such declarations on cash memos and bills are not only objectionable but constitute an unfair trade practice under the Consumer Protection Act.” The reasoning provided was that such terms might mislead customers into believing they have no recourse for defective goods, thereby unfairly limiting their rights

The commission cited another Government Order dated November 3, 2007 that explicitly mandated that cash memos and bills should not include any terms that goods once sold will not be taken back or exchanged. Non-compliance with this directive constitutes a violation punishable under the Consumer Protection Act.

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